Now let’s not beat around the metaphorical video game bush, Tron:Evolution is a movie-game tie-in. But not just any movie game tie-in. It’s the game for the immensely popular new film ; Tron Legacy, the sequel to the original blockbuster ‘Tron’ and features Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges, House M.D actress Olivia Wilde and the chiselled, handsome, Hollywood newcomer Garrett Hedlund. The film has already taken in $165,555,591 across box offices worldwide and it seems that nothing can stunt its success (which broke records set by super-movie Avatar). I also had high hopes for the game as Disney are known to make fantastic movie-games, so with with my wireless dualshock in one hand and with my PS Move controller in the other, I headed into the grid to play Tron : Evolution.
Keep reading to find out if Tron Evolution is as good as the film it’s based on.
What I immediately realised and very much appreciate with the game, is that playing it requires no prior knowledge of the Tron universe and that anyone who hasn’t seen either of the 2 Tron movies can easily jump straight into the energetic, futuristic neon setting of bright lights and a stunning aesthetics, which is useful considering that a) people may not have had the chance to watch the new film on the big screen yet and b) the original may have been missed by the game’s target audience of 12 year olds and teenagers considering that it was released in 1982.
Setting off in the game’s story mode sees you greeted by an ‘amateur video’ cut-scene that a fantastically rendered Flynn (creator of the Tron world) has made to give you a bit of backstory on the events of the game, which occur before the new film, as not to cause spoilers. You are then launched right into the game as a faceless, nameless and uber-generic character, decked out in one of the game’s well-recognisable neon-blue outfits.No reasons as to why you’re in the Tron universe, who you are or even how you got there are given and so there is no real connection with the character you play as, leading me to believe that Disney spent far more time worrying about the fate of the film than they did concerning themselves with the little things in the game that can make a huge difference to how we feel about the Tron franchise. This was a small niggle however, as you’re not playing Tron Evolution to be captivated by a novel story, you’re playing it to be immersed in a world of cutting edge technology, where your surroundings are the product of revolutionary developments in Artificial Intelligence. You’re playing the game to be awestruck.
With the game’s generic character (let’s call him Genero-Tron!) in your control, the simple tutorial pop-ups ease you into learning how to free-run around the ultra-modern world, like the wicked acrobatic master that you’ve always wanted to be in real life. The ridiculously complex acrobatic feats that Genero-Tron (I feel like the name will catch on eventually) are truly mesmerising and I found myself attempting to make him flip and vault over the smooth furnishings (think Deus Ex meets IKEA) that decorate some of the interiors of the game’s buildings. What troubled me with the free-running was that the fluidity actually became a problem. Falling off the edge of buildings caused you to become ‘derezzed’ (Tron Evolution’s version of death) though becoming derezzed was all too common as the rolls and leaps that finish Genero-Tron’s acrobatic sequences caused him to fall of the edge of everything which could have been solved had it employed the ‘ledge-safety’ system employed by games such as Assassin’s Creed or inFAMOUS that makes your character grab hold of a nearby ledge should they almost fall to an untimely demise.
The acrobatics in the game can be used during the very entertaining combat sequences. Your character can seamlessly transition into attacking unsightly glitch warriors to free-running about the world and can even integrate the 2 with Genero-Tron being able to vault over obstacles, reaching ridiculous heights above his enemies before hitting them in their digital faces with his glowing disc (which is called a ‘Light Disc’ fact fans!) sending them into a dizzying array or pixels which evaporate and disappear into a sea of nothingness. Amazing scenes.
When I wasn’t getting myself riled up over the fact that I’d been derezzed for the 20th time in about 5 minutes, I was marvelling at the way that Disney have successfully kept the quality of the game as high as that of the movie. For example, an incredible amount of hard-work went into making the film as great as possible and that has been carried over to the game, with Disney getting Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde in the recording booths to do the voices for Clu & Flynn (Bridges) and Quorra (Wilde). It’s really nice to see that they’ve chosen to pay attention to these smaller aspects of the game, but it makes a change from a lot of other tie-ins in which random actors have been drafted in to do the voices – regardless of the fact that they don’t sound like the actor from from the film!
I was also extremely impressed with the graphics and the sounds in the game. While the film is being praised for it’s impressive CGI, the game too boasts beautiful visuals with super-realistic character models of both Jeff Bridges’ and Olivia Wilde’s characters being seen in the game. The faces of their characters, which aren’t, admittedly, as wondrous as say Heavy Rain or facial feature rendering heavyweights Team Bondi with LA Noire but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the speech coincided with what the characters were saying.
The Tron universe is glossy like a fine sheet of a precious metal – coated in several layers of varnish for that extra sheen. This sticks to the equally as slick look of the film, again showing Disney’s dedication to making a great movie tie-in. As for the aforementioned sounds, they are absolutely fantastic. As I played through the game, I tweeted that I’d spent at least 20 minutes on a loading screen not because of horrendous loading times but simply because Daft Punk’s song ‘Derezzed’ was playing in the background. Like the fine, expensive caviar in the buffet of music-that-plays-while-you’re-waiting, the addition of Daft Punk music into both the game and the film is the electronic,‘eargasmic’ and digitized icing on the already well polished Tron cake.
After a couple of hours in the game (or just one, depending on how many times you get derezzzed as a result of falling of the edge of platforms) Genero-Tron (it’s definitely beginning to stick now, right?) gets to hop into the saddle of a Tron Light Cycle. Wow. A 2-wheeled neon light cycle ready to send your futuristic , space suit clad self hurtled down an illuminated pathway at mind-bending speeds. The version of Tron Evolution that I played was on PS3 and so it is accompanied by PlayStation Move support, allowing you to really get interactive with the game by waving your wand/glow stick/orb controller-thingy at the TV making you feel like you are actually right there in the grid, piloting your very own light cycle. Ok, so maybe it feels more like your waving a wand/glow stick/orb controller-thingy at your TV than it does steering a motorcycle but the extra way of playing is a welcome addition and it gives a much-needed use to my PS Move controllers which I hadn’t got much use out of in single-player settings like Tron Evolution’s story mode. Unfortunately, the PS Move controls don’t really work. At all. Regardless of how well your controller is calibrated, it feels as though madly shaking your fist at the screen with your fingers clasped around the PS Move controller has about the same affect of gently and precisely waving the controller in front of the camera. That being said, it does ‘sort of’ work if you half-use the dualshock and half use the PS Move controller, but it’s far too much hard work when you could just scrap the use of the PS Move controls all together in favour of the trusty dualshock!
I can’t say that the game isn’t fun and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in its universe, though for all of its strengths, Tron Evolution just isn’t an essential title. If you have some spare cash left over after Christmas and you need a game to tide you over during the tedious waiting period between now and the release of big blockbusters like Dead Space 2, Killzone 3 and Little Big Planet 2 are released in the new year, then this is the game for you.